By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento police recruitment is coming under new scrutiny as a Sacramento County grand jury report is calling vacancies in the department a “crisis.”

Critics say the report is a “cut and paste” job to give police what they want.

The report shows the police department currently has 747 sworn officers and a budget of nearly $150 million. The department is down 65 positions from its authorized level, the report said.

It recommends increasing recruiting with new tactics, like removing a college degree requirement, allowing tattoos, piercings and ponytails for officers, and pressing for more positive PR by city leaders and private PR firms.

This report comes days after two teens were killed at Arden Fair Mall, a reference made by Mayor Darrell Steinberg ahead of the council officially responding to the report Tuesday night.

“As I look at what happened at Arden Fair last Friday night, I, for one, want to see more gang enforcement,” Steinberg said.

The Sacramento Police Officer’s Association President Timothy Davis issued a statement reading: “Currently there are nearly 70 police officer vacancies in the Sacramento Police Department. Even if all the vacancies were filled, there would still not be enough police officers to meet the needs of this growing city of over half a million residents.”

Mark T. Harris is the founder of Law Enforcement Accountability Directive (L.E.A.D.), which seeks better community relations with police.

“This report from the grand jury is disappointing on several levels, but the level of tone-deafness is probably at the height of the list of things I’m most disappointed by,” Harris said.

Harris points out the report identifies crime as down overall in Sacramento in the past decade even with fewer sworn officers. He said the police department should not get more officers.

“Here we have a grand jury that basically ‘cut and pasted’ what the police department wanted,” Harris said. “This grand jury report, in my opinion, really missed the mark.”

The city council agreed with some of the report’s findings. Although it did not agree to remove a college degree requirement for recruits. Mayor Steinberg said the city will spend time in January redefining police officer roles.

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